It is no longer enough for politicians to send just a pleasant image; the image has to generate engagement, an immediate “sameness” quality, going beyond posing at the ranch to embellishing a more relatable suburbia, an imaginary payola, hunting photos like urgent offerings among the day-to-day. This has created a new genre of Republican visuals — Republican Instagram — which looks like an emphatic effort to socialize in a foreign medium, like an alien trying to blend into the midwest, like Governor Scott Walker enjoying a ham and cheese out of a brown lunch bag: the working man’s dose. He’s an example of the Republican sculpting the never-before really seen politician, a previously unimagined narrative far beyond the aristocratic duties of the seasonal thank-you card that can be self-imposed toward some idea of authenticity. Republican Instagram is a chance for a politician like Walker to say, “Hey, I’m not going anywhere” in low-quality, seemingly improvised photographs. It’s Speaker Paul Ryan placing himself front and center of every crowded, celebratory image, or having a lion-king Mufasa moment, looking out at the national mall with a blonde child in a photo captioned, “Everything the light touches.” Fear — or our hope — of their quick fade into irrelevancy is imaginatively stalled on Republican Instagram.
Square Pegs: The sinister normalcy of Republican imagery
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